We are all individuals, experiencing the world around us in our own way. It can be tempting to look at the journey of our lives and choose the path that is easiest for us.
Consumer society, and perpetual economic growth, depends on this tunnel vision. We are taught to see our needs as paramount.
If we need a new pair of shoes, we buy a pair that we can afford, with little thought to where they have already been, and whose lives they have already shaped.
We are taught to forget the globally connected process that led to this exact pair of shoes being on our shelves, and on our feet. We are taught to forget the journey they have yet to take when they break, or we tire of them.
They will carry on long after we are gone. Every step we take is connected to the world.
So much in politics comes down to perspective.
How do we see our lives reflected in the words and actions of politicians?
Often the same facts seem unrecognisable when passed from one side of the political debate to the other.
I know I felt this way when I listened to Rishi Sunak’s latest announcement about Net Zero. Some applauded his announcement, others felt it was a back step in a worldwide effort to tackle climate change. Where was I reflected in all of this?
Certainly, it is easy to see in the changing weather and growing ecological crisis that tackling climate change is becoming urgent.
However, according to Mr Sunak, we “working people” don’t have to work so hard to do this. His words were soothing to the consumer in me.
After all, as he said, in the UK we have reduced our emissions by 50% since 1990, while China has gone up by 300%. We’re doing pretty well, right? I looked at the soles of my shoes – made in China. We all walk the same path.
The path to Net Zero will be uncomfortable, and maybe inconvenient or costly at times, but it’s a path we all must take. As the Conservatives scrap the hard choices in favour of supporting new oil and gas in the North Sea, they are choosing the easy road. Choosing the cheap, comfortable pair of shoes won’t change the fact that they come with a hidden cost that will, ultimately, be paid by all of us.
Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan may seem more difficult, but it is necessary. It approaches the goal of Net Zero by 2050 as an interconnected issue, that must be approached from the ground up, through education and training programmes, investment and infrastructure.
We are individuals, we each have one vote, but collectively we can remodel the system to find a path that leads us all into the future.